Hey, Saratogians: Don’t you wanna dance, say you wanna dance, don’t you wanna dance? (We still miss you, Whitney Houston.) Yes, for all of you who want to dance with somebody, Saratoga will have a new dance club this fall with late-night hours, light fare and cocktails to boot. Opening in October at 17 Maple Avenue—currently occupied by Sinclair Saratoga, which will be open through Labor Day—The Night Owl, true to its name, will stay open late—7pm to 4am Thursday through Saturday—and will focus on two of the most important ingredients in any bumping nightlife scene: live DJs and a large, creative list of craft cocktails. “We want to be the reason people get a babysitter for the whole night,” says The Night Owl’s owner, Matt Pedersen. “I’ve been working on Caroline Street for 18 years, and slowly I’ve seen what this town needs, and that’s some high-end nightlife.”
To make this upper-crust dream a reality, Pedersen says that The Night Owl will lean into its classy, speakeasy-inspired cocktail menu, offering a fantastic variety of on-tap cocktails, as well as mixed drinks made with daily prepared bitters, syrups and ingredients from local farmers’ markets. There will also be a late-night happy hour from 7-10pm, with some highly affordable price-points: $7 craft cocktails, $5 well drinks and select beers for just $2. The dance and cocktail club will also offer some light fare from Tatu, a Yucatecan-style Mexican restaurant on the floor above The Night Owl, as well as, potentially, some of its own late-night bites in the near future.
As for the dancing scene, expect to get moving with guest DJs from New York City and elsewhere across New York State. The front room of the club will be a dedicated dance space, with mostly 1920s-inspired decor and lots of Art Deco flourishes and even some furnishings and decorations sourced from an authentic, vintage movie theater. About the ambiance of his first-ever club, Pedersen says: “We’re going for that classier look from the turn of the last century, when there was style to everything, from the cars to the clubs to the clothing. So the vibe will be very relaxed—like a ’20s speakeasy.”
Just to put a fine point on that Speakeasy vibe, The Night Owl will also feature a “secret” back room, hidden behind a moveable bookcase where the club suddenly transforms into a cocktail salon with relaxed lounge seating, a hidden photo booth (also behind a bookcase) and special weekend performances from contortionists, burlesque dancers and sword swallowers. “I thought it would be a great draw to offer something that you don’t see anywhere in entertainment around here,” says Pedersen. “A quick 15-minute show of a contortionist or a sword swallower, and people will lose it.”
Pedersen grew up in Ballston Spa and moved to Saratoga after high school (he actually started working on Caroline Street at just 16). This summer, he was in discussions with Hilary Morrison, current owner of Sinclair Saratoga, about building some tables for Sinclair’s patio when the two began talking about the bigger picture of the establishment. “Hilary was wanting to sell the bar or do something new with it,” says Pedersen. “We started talking, and I decided now was my time and I purchased it from her.” Pedersen says that Morrison will stay on as The Night Owl’s digital marketer and events coordinator.
The transition from Sinclair Saratoga to The Night Owl will begin after Labor Day when the club will start throwing “Matt’s Patio Party: A Summer Send-off” every Friday and Saturday until the club’s opening in October. This summer send-off party series, which will be held at 17 Maple Avenue’s patio (while the building undergoes renovations), will feature live DJs and dancing, an outdoor grill menu provided by Comfort Kitchen, as well as two new specialty cocktails each weekend until opening.